Unvaccinated Chicago police officer gives glimpse into why he won’t get the shot

WGN Investigates

CHICAGO — Jim Murray has been a Chicago police officer for 18 years. And he certainly doesn’t want to be caught in the crossfire of an epic battle between police union president John Catanzara and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. But he is.

“It’s stressful every second of the day,” Murray told WGN Investigates about his decision to defy an order to report his vaccination status to the city.

Murray insists he’s not anti-vaccine, he’s simply concerned after serving in the Gulf War and developing severe stomach issues he was later told may have been linked to vaccines the military required he receive.

“I don’t want to down the line suffer what I suffered in the past,” Murray said.

He is one of roughly 40 officers who have been stripped of their police powers and put in no-pay status for refusing to report their vaccination status.

Murray said he is more than willing to get tested weekly on his own dime. While he struggles with whether to get the shot, he’s concerned for his wife and children.

“I’m in no-pay status,” he said. “In about 25 days, I’ll lose my health benefits. That could all change with a phone call. I could call HR and enter the portal and go back to work. I’m not sure what I want to do.”

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara has urged officers to refuse to report their vaccination status. Mayor Lightfoot says the policy is a matter of life and death, especially considering four Chicago police officers have died of COVID-19-related illness.

A Cook County judge has waded into the fight between the police union and City Hall. The judge ruled the city’s vaccination policy can remain in place, but can’t enforce an end-of-the-year deadline for officers to receive the shot. The judge said the city and union should enter accelerated arbitration over the issue.

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